Box office smashes “Frozen” and “Thor: The Dark World” and the juggernaut that is ESPN propelled the Walt Disney Company to sterling earnings for the three months ended Dec. 28.
The media giant eclipsed Wall Street expectations in every key rubric. Diluted earnings per share for the first quarter of its fiscal year increased 32 percent to $1.04 from 79 cents in the prior-year quarter, while revenues climbed 9 percent to $12.3 billion from $11.3 billion in the year-ago period. Net income increased 33 percent to $1.8 billion.
Analysts had predicted diluted earnings of 92 cents and revenue of $12.25 billion.
The standout was the company’s studio division, which saw revenues jump 23 percent to $1.9 billion and operating income improve 75 percent to $409 million as audiences embraced the Oscar-nominated “Frozen” and the “Thor” sequel. “Frozen” recently passed “The Lion King” as Disney’s highest-grossing original animated movie.
“These results reflect the strength of our unprecedented portfolio of brands, a constant focus on creativity and innovation, and the continued success of our long-term strategy,” Robert Iger, Disney’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
The two major pillars of Disney’s business — its parks and cable assets — continued to perform. The parks and resorts division climbed 6 percent to $3.6 billion and saw operating income improve 16 percent to $671 million. The company attributed the gains to higher ticket prices and stronger food and merchandise sales.
Disney’s media networks division saw revenues improve 4 percent to $5.2 billion, with net income growing 20 percent to $1.5 billion. ESPN was the main driver, Disney said.